As Kenya begins to experience an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, the Ministry of Health says it has embarked on an 'all government' approach in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As of October 21, the positivity rate had increased by 10.1% with over 45,600 confirmed cases of the virus.
In remarks made at the COVID-19 Response: Perspectives on Kenya symposium, the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of ICT Joe Mucheru said the approach is coordinated by the National Emergency Response Committee (NERC) which put in place a contingency plan to inform the government response.
“When we reflect on our journey with COVID-19, we will be able to record the positive impact that these measures have had not only on our ongoing efforts to achieve Universal Health Coverage but also on the tangible difference they have had on our overall health status," said Hon Mucheru in remarks made on behalf of Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Health Hon Mutahi Kagwe.
The government has also scaled up its diagnostic capacity to 39 laboratories spread across 12 counties, and have hired and trained a new cohort of healthcare workers. The Ministry acknowledged the challenges in response to COVID-19 in Kenya and attested to the need for evaluation of its response and how to handle pandemics in future.
AMREF CEO Dr Githinji Gitahi said the implementation of a complete lockdown or closure of schools should not be used as a long-term strategy to respond to the pandemic. “We should not use machine gun therapy but make use of precision data in a public health approach to help us better understand the spread of the virus," he said.
The government has partnered with the private sector and international agencies, including the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) in its response to the pandemic. AKDN in particular, through its agencies has been part of the coordinated efforts.
Dr Azim Lakhani, AKDN Diplomatic Representative said, “The Aga Khan University has trained over 19,000 nurses, midwives and community health workers in the care of COVID-19 patients."
“We need to find a collective solution to the various effects of COVID-19. How do we support our young people? How do we respond to the psychosocial effects of this pandemic at the family level? How do we support communities with home-based care? The battle will only be won at community level," said Aga Khan University's Vice Provost- East Africa, Dr Alex Awiti. He called on the relevant actors to stop the blame game and shift their focus on community health care.
Prof Lawrence Pintak, Dean at Aga Khan University's Graduate School of Media and Communications attested to the changes the new normal has brought to our daily routines.
“There is a new reality thanks to COVID-19. Individuals, government and businesses must adjust," he said.
The half-day symposium co-hosted by the Ministry of Health and Aga Khan University Graduate School of Media and Communications brought together experts from various sectors to evaluate Kenya's handling of the pandemic, draw key lessons and make recommendations for future actions.